Burger King has severed ties with its Irish food supplier after finding small traces of horse DNA in the meat used for its burgers.
The fast food chain, which has more than 500 outlets in the UK, issued full page newspaper apologies in which it confirmed that it had terminated its contract with Silvercrest Foods.
Approved suppliers from Italy and Germany are now in use as a precaution.
The company made the switch earlier this month after being notified that Silvercrest, which was approved to supply 100% Irish and British beef patties for its restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, was under investigation for potential contamination of some retail products.
While Burger King's own checks on meat in its restaurants were negative, four samples taken from the Silvercrest plant in Co Monaghan tested positive for horse DNA.
Burger King said that it had established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef from a non-approved supplier in Poland, the same company identified by the Irish Department of Agriculture as the source of Silvercrest's contamination issue.
Diego Beamonte, vice president of global quality, Burger King Corporation, apologised to customers for the controversy.
He said: "While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologise to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beef burgers. Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Tuesday that it cannot be sure if the contaminated burgers were being sold for more than a year. At least 10 million burgers were put into storage following the scandal.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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